What’s in an Age? Opportunity

Colin James to Age Concern conference, 16 April 2018
The word “concern” in your name is a concern for this conference. Many people read “concern” as a “worry”. If so, there is going to be a lot more worry because there are going to be many more people “of an age” and they will be a larger proportion of the population with a smaller proportion of people of “working age” to provide for them.
But I read your “concern” as an expression of “care” or “value” in the “wellbeing” of this expanding cohort of ageing people, generating “opportunity”, not just for those people but for the whole of society.
Where will Aotearoan/New Zealanders choose to fix our focus through the 2020s? Fixing a problem? Or realising opportunity? ……

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How well off are we really? The Treasury wants to know

The Treasury will today [Tuesday 20 March] take another step down its “wellbeing economics” track. On that road Grant Robertson is signposting a “wellbeing budget” in 2019.

The event is the Treasury’s four-yearly investment statement. Up to now it has essentially been a balance sheet of the government’s financial and physical assets and liabilities. Today’s will flag an extension.

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Chris Hipkins’ plans for the public service and Parliament

This appeared in the February issue of Policy Quarterly, published by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies this week. It is a very brief scan of what State Services Minister and Leader of the House Chris Hipkins proposes for what is now known as the state sector (but for which there is growing pressure to rethink it as a public service) and for Parliament.

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A lifetime learning. There comes a time.

Around the time I returned from London in 1978 a businessman punched a young journalist called Colin James. People in politics sympathised with me, some barely suppressing schadenfreude.

That other, punched, Colin James went offshore soon after. No one punched this Colin James (me), at least not physically. The incident reinforced for me the merit for a journalist of humility.

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Politician of the year — and of five decades

It’s time to anoint the politician of 2017. It has to be Jacinda Ardern.

With accomplished assurance, she took Labour from a 24% poll average and falling in July to 36.9% in the election, 12 points up on 2014.

Don Brash’s 2002-05 18-point rescue of National beats that. But Ardern did it in under eight weeks, combining substance and connectedness. She is not “stardust”, Bill English’s shabby scoff. She is of a rising generation, he of a passing one.

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When the “losers won” – and the loser lost: the first post-baby-boomer election

Background notes for Victoria University post-election conference
Colin James, 6 December 2017

This was the election the “losers won”, the National party and its devotees, apologists and puppets grumped when Winston Peters and his New Zealand First party decided to coalesce with Labour. National got 44.4% of the vote to Labour’s 36.9%.

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The Mark Twain syndrome – why cities might rule (sometime)

NZIIA Masterton 17Nov29

The Mark Twain syndrome – why cities might rule (sometime)
Colin James to Masterton branch, New Zealand Institute of International Affairs
29 November 2017

Mark Twain quipped that a report of his death was an exaggeration. The same is often said of the sovereign nation-state. But Mark Twain did die, 13 years after the exaggerated report.
Death reduced Mark Twain to putrefaction and sustenance for creatures of the dark. His words live on, a disembodied testament to our human need and yearning for ways to knit belief that we have meaning and are distinct from and superior to all other living things in this temporary, 10-billion-year habitat whose sun will one day go out.
We invest similar belief and hope in our governing constructs. But, like Mark Twain, they are not immortal. Multiple empires and multiple lesser satrapies and realms have disintegrated and dematerialised through the past three of four millennia…..

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Ardern’s choice: sticking plasters or building assets

It has been a month for centenaries of revolutions: Vladimir Lenin’s Russian coup and Martin Luther’s challenge to Catholic authorities. Their legacies are very different.

Lenin’s revolution brought to power a brutal Communist autocracy which killed capitalism in one country but also over time trashed the collectivist alternative ideal. Western socialists, including Labourites here, turned to a social democratic accommodation with capitalism.

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